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Pine Barrens Wapato
Pine Barrens Wapato
Pine Barrens Wapato

Pine Barrens Wapato

Regular price $3.25 Sale

Sagittaria engelmanniana 

20 seeds minimum 

*Germination test not yet completed. We will update page as soon as results come in, but are selling it in the meantime for those willing to take the risk. Germination likely improves with 60 days of cold and moist stratification (such as in a bag of damp sand in the refrigerator).

Origin: New Jersey Pine Barrens

EFN EXCLUSIVE. Wapato, or "duck potato," is a much-discussed but seldom-actually-tasted native wild edible. It is rarely eaten because it has become rather hard to find, in addition to being easily confused with another "arrowhead" plant, the Arrow Arum (Peltandra virginica). An aquatic plant, indigenous peoples traditionally harvest duck potatoes by dislodging them from the mud with their toes, then simply plucking them off the surface of the water since the unattached tubers float! The tubers — technically corms — are best cooked before eating. They are about the size of chestnuts, and can be dried or powdered for use over the long winter. The young tender leaves are also edible, along with the flower buds and fruit. Wapato is an old Cree or Ojibwe word whose etymology has been lost to history, but the name is now applied to a few species in the genus Sagittaria, most commonly S. latifolia and S. cuneata. But in our neck of the woods, it is also used to describe this species, S. engelmanniana, known in English as "Englemann's Arrowhead" or "Acid-water Arrowhead." It is typified by especially slender leaves and a tendency to grow well in acidic water, like sphagnum bogs, or the slow-moving, tannin-rich water of New Jersey's Pine Barrens. But it will thrive in shallow water in most ponds, creeks, rivers, or canals, provided it receives enough sun. Arrowhead plants like this one are often grown as ornamentals in private ponds, even small fishponds, for their graceful leaves and tall, beautiful flower spikes. Our ever-growing patch (shown in the photo above) started with just a few corms transplanted from a wild population found on private land in the Pine Barrens, not far from Hammonton, NJ. As far as we know, we are the only seed outfit ever to offer seeds of this species for sale. If you live in its native range, this is a great candidate for "guerilla gardening" (meaning get some seedlings started and plant them in a favorite local spot where they will thrive and become a resource for you and future generations)!